Letter by GAVI Board Chair, Dagfinn Høybråten, January 2011

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Dagfinn Høybråten outlines his priorities to ensure that GAVI continues to succeed in saving lives through immunisation

Dagfinn Høybråten Chair

Dear colleagues, friends, GAVI partners and all who are committed to saving children's lives,

I am passionate about GAVI and its mission. How is it possible not to be? The core of my passion lies in the opportunity that GAVI offers to save lives with vaccines, one of the most efficient public health tools for fighting disease and poverty.

I am particularly enthusiastic to take the Chair of the GAVI Alliance at the launch of a dynamic new five-year strategy that is focused on introducing life-saving vaccines, including against the leading causes of pneumonia and diarrhoea, the two biggest childhood killers in the world.

I have seen GAVI's work first hand in countries. In Malawi, we followed what is known as the "cold chain," the delivery system that insures vaccines are kept at a cool and optimum temperature. The vaccines we saw were transported by a health worker by bicycle from the general store to the clinic and then to a remote village where parents and their children waited under a tree.

There I met Raswiri, a two-week old baby girl - the same age as my grand-daughter - who was one of the many children vaccinated that day. I spoke with mothers, fathers and tribal leaders and listened to them sing a song of welcome and of gratitude. It was a moving experience and it made me think that all of us in the Alliance - from the GAVI Board and Secretariat, to donors, partners, and the countries themselves - are all important parts of what I call the "warm chain," the human one that ensures that vaccines that can save Raswiri's life reach babies just like her.

My top priority as GAVI Chair will be to raise the resources necessary to immunise millions more children. Donors have the opportunity right now to maximise their investments and save four million more lives by 2015. The tools exist and countries desperately want the vaccines. It is the money -- US$ 3.7 billion - and the political will that are required. I will focus on ensuring that we raise this money as well as work to further lower vaccine prices and increase the co-financing provided by the countries who receive the vaccines.

Working as a member of the GAVI Alliance Board for the past four years has given a lot of meaning to my life. I look forward to contributing further to this mission. If you have not already, I invite you to join me. It is important, valuable and rewarding.

Sincerely,

Dagfinn Høybråten

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